WordPress has changed forever. WordPress’ update to version 5 released on December 6, 2018 and brought with it a whole new way to compose blog posts and pages.
The WordPress team is calling the new post editor “Gutenberg” (you know, after the guy who invented the printing press and changed media forever).
If your business or nonprofit has an aging WordPress website you should know what you’re in for and how to prepare before clicking the “update” button to WordPress 5.x.
What is Gutenberg?
The classic WordPress editor is showing its age. It isn’t drag and drop, it gets cluttered by plugin features, and it requires authors to keep clicking “preview” to see what their post will look like.
Gutenberg aims to solve all of this.
With WordPress 5 Gutenberg replaced the classic editor completely. WordPress users are now composing blog posts using rearrangeable content “blocks” instead of a single giant block of text, interacting more intuitively with plugins, and previewing their posts as they compose them rather than toggling between the editor and preview.
Gutenberg has been a polarizing release for WordPress (just check out the comments below). But regardless of whether you think Gutenberg is an instant success or a slow burn it will affect how your business or nonprofit uses its website.
WordPress 5’s Gutenberg update will affect your business or nonprofit by…
1. Forcing you to develop a new workflow
Have you ever tried to use a different type of computer? You know, like you’ve used Windows forever and when you sit down at a Mac you’re completely lost?
Some of you may feel that way when you first fire up Gutenberg.
Sure, the formatting controls have moved as have most of your plugin and widget settings. But even more significantly, the entire philosophy of the user interface has changed. Transitioning to content as multiple movable “blocks” is a big change (for the better) and will come with a learning curve for some users.
This means that your current workflow for composing and publishing a post may need to change. Do you recall when Microsoft introduced the “Ribbon” in Office. If so, you may remember the frustration of searching for all of the formatting options you used to know by heart. But, for most of us, once we got used to the Ribbon our productivity increased. Gutenberg is like that. In the short term you may feel lost but once you develop a workflow you’re going to be thanking the WordPress community for the update.
2. Rendering some of your plugins unusable
Most major plugin developers have already updated their plugins for Gutenberg support. Yet there are some stragglers out there and your site may be using one of them. Not every plugin is going to be updated. It’s just the way of things.
Be prepared for some of your plugins to not work when you install Gutenberg.
Which ones? Some plugins that have settings available on the post editing page may disappear, break, or have reduced functionality until they are updated for Gutenberg.
But most are now primed and ready.
3. Reducing the learning curve for new blog contributors
When launching new websites for clients, whether on WordPress or something else, I am often asked to also provide a how-to on publishing blog posts and other content on the new site.
Let’s face it, the Web isn’t always as straightforward as we would like.
Gutenberg is designed to help reduce the learning curve associated with composing a blog post through WordPress.
Some of Gutenberg’s new features that make learning WordPress even easier include:
- Pre-formatted “block” types like paragraph, heading, list, quote, gallery, cover image, and even button, page break, and text columns,
- Drag and drop functionality for rearranging blocks,
- Individual formatting for each block,
- What-you-see-is-what-you-get editor for themes that support it,
- Default color options for background and text,
- …and more
4. Increasing your productivity
If you don’t write your content in HTML Gutenberg will increase your productivity.
Formatting options are always nearby, making changes are easy and immediately visible, and rearranging your content is now even simpler than cut and paste.
Now what if you write your content offline and then add it to WordPress later? Won’t “content blocks” force you to paste each section separately?
No, not necessarily. Gutenberg still allows you to paste your content into the editor and then convert it to blocks.
Just add a “Classic” block, paste your entire post, then convert to blocks, and make any changes you need to!
WordPress 5’s Update with Gutenberg is Here as of December 6, 2018
You Can Prepare Your Aging WordPress Site for Gutenberg by…
Installing the Classic Editor Plugin Before Updating to WordPress 5.x
Once you update your aging WordPress site, the old Classic Editor will no longer be visible.
So what happens if one of your plugins doesn’t play nice with Gutenberg? You may find yourself longing for the Classic Editor with all its clunkiness.
The good news is that a team of WordPress contributors have developed a Classic Editor plugin that will allow you to compose a post using the Classic Editor if you need to – even with Gutenberg installed!
All your plugins should just work in the Classic Editor after all.
This plugin is going to be a life saver for some websites. With the Classic Editor plugin you can update to WordPress 5.x but still have the Classic Editor to support your legacy plugins.
If you haven’t installed this plugin do so before updating to WordPress 5.x.
Still worried about updating your aging website to WordPress 5?
Our WordPress Maintenance and Support Services are here to help. Let us help you through the transition. We’ll update your website to the latest WordPress release, ensure compatibility with your current software, make the classic editor available if necessary, and give you a hands on tutorial on using Gutenberg. Contact us today and we’ll help you bring your aging website into the present.